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What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer screen headache

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), also known as Digital Eye Strain, is described by the American Optometric Association as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.

In the modern climate, it is often difficult to escape digital screens. We use them at work, check our phone screens, relax in front of the TV screen or use your home PC. All this screen time adds up, human eyes have not evolved to spend long periods of time watching light emitting screens and thus several health problems can arise.

This is such a big problem that some researchers argue that CVS is the “No. 1 occupational hazard of the 21st century”, with over 70 million globally at risk, and up to 90% of computer users experiencing symptoms related to CVS after just a couple of hours of screen time.

Computer screen headache

Computer Vision Syndrome Symptoms

Have you ever spent hours in front of a computer screen to discover you are suffering mild vision problems?

Computer Vision Syndrome has a long list of effects on your eyes including:

  • Eye Strain
  • Eye Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritation / Redness / Burning Sensations
  • Dry eyes

It affects more than just your eyes, also potentially causing:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Neck and Shoulder pain

This results in poorer work performance as workers struggle to maintain focus despite vision problems and pain. If you have experienced any of these symptoms after extended screen use, you now have a name for the root problem.

Causes of Computer Vision Syndrome

Your eyes work harder when they read from a screen because computer images are made up of pixels – tiny dots that have a bright centre and blurred edges. In comparison, printed images and words are solid and well-defined, which is why you would not get the same sort of symptoms from reading a book. Our eyes must constantly focus, relax and refocus to read these pixels, which tires out the muscles.

Some additional causes leading to CVS include:

  • Glare on the screen
  • Poor lighting
  • Sitting too close to the screen
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Uncorrected vision problems
  • Or a combination of these factors

How do I prevent Computer Vision Syndrome?

Prevention is always better than a cure and should be a consideration for any user spending long hours behind a screen, or employers with employees who use screens as part of their job.

A recommended eye relief trick is to take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes, where you stare and focus on an object 20 feet or more away.

Here at Safety Protection Glasses, we offer an Anti-Reflective Coating (AR) option for the majority of our prescription glasses. Glare can be a major cause of CVS, bad lighting can cause a reflection or glare upon your computer screen, causing your eyes to work harder to read the screen. This coating is specifically designed to reduce reflections and glare, it is also useful in low light conditions such as driving at night.

You could also choose to avail of our Blue Blocker Coating, which comes as a possible add-on to our AR coating. Blue Light from digital screens is another contributor to eye strain and CVS, meaning it would be an excellent choice for your glasses if you spend more than an hour or two in front of a screen a day. Not only is blue light potentially harmful to your eyes, but blue light is associated with poor sleep as it can disrupt your natural Circadian Rhythm, lowering your melatonin levels, leaving you tossing and turning unable to sleep.
You may notice some smartphones or apps change the background lighting of your computer / phone to an orange or yellow tint depending on the time of day and this is reason behind it. As well as a Blue Blocker we would also recommend a tint from our extensive range, yellow or orange tints help to block blue light, which would be especially beneficial to people who use computers in the evening.

Should I worry about Computer Vision Syndrome?

CVS is a common ailment, and its effects are temporary, spending a few hours away from any digital screens should resolve any symptoms. Some people are more susceptible to CVS than others, especially those with pre-existing eye conditions. As such, steps should taken to relieve or prevent symptoms developing, namely the 20-20-20 breaks from screen time, Anti-Reflective Coatings and Blue Blocker Coatings.

If you are an employer with multiple staff using digital screens daily, you should be concerned about the probable reduction in productivity from workers who are suffering symptoms of CVS, and also suffering poor sleep from blue light effects late at night.

It is a little known fact that under UK Health & Safety law, if you work with Digital Screen Equipment, such as computer screens, on a regular basis, you are entitled to ask your employer for a full eye examination and vision test. To comply with DSE Regulations, your employer must pay the full cost of an eye test and the provision of basic spectacles where required. When sourcing your new eyewear, you should discuss the benefits of Anti-Reflective and Blue Blocker coatings with your optician and employer, taking steps to maintain/improve your health and productivity.

If you have any additional questions or queries about any topic relating to eye-care, don’t hesitate to contact and we will do our best to help you.


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